An Indian expert on urban governance and public policy has been appointed vice-principal of the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) here, which specialises in the study of Asia and Africa.
Nirmala Rao has been appointed the vice-principal (learning and teaching) of the institution and will take up her new post on August 1. She has also served as advisor to the Andhra Pradesh government.
SOAS is a college of the University of London and has consistently figured in the top ten educational institutions in Britain.
Rao holds MA and M Phil degrees from the Jawaharlal Nehru University at New Delhi. She graduated in economics from Delhi University in 1979.
She joins SOAS from Goldsmiths college, where she has been pro-warden (academic) since 2005. In her 14-year career at Goldsmiths, she also served as head of the department of politics from 1999 to 2002.
Rao held research positions at the Runnymede trust, the policy studies institute and Queen Mary and Westfield college, where she was awarded her P hd in 1993.
Rao has published widely in the fields of urban governance and public policy. Her most recent book cities in transition: growth and change in six metropolitan areas (2007) examined planning responses to the challenge of growth in cities in Asia, Europe and North America.
She is currently undertaking research on the ways in which the ideas of local democracy evolved in the conversations between India and England in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Nirmala was elected as an academician of the academy of learned societies in the social sciences in 2003.
She has extensive experience of public service and has also served as an advisor to a range of bodies including the UK audit commission, the office of the deputy Prime Minister and the centre for good governance, government of Andhra Pradesh.
At SOAS, Rao will work closely with the pro-director, deans, associate deans and appropriate professional services colleagues to facilitate internal coordination of all teaching and student experience matters across the school.